An appellate court panel found in favor of Newhall Land and Farming and the Department of Fish and Wildlife in a lawsuit by the Center for Biological Diversity regarding environmental reports for the 20,000-plus home Newhall Ranch development.

The decision by the three-justice panel of the California Second Appellate District unanimously overturned Judge Ann Jones’s 2012 judgment in favor of the plaintiffs, which include local environmental group SCOPE, or Santa Clarita Organization for Planning and the Environment.

“The appellate decision fully vindicates the decade-long effort to secure all of the state environmental permits necessary for Newhall Ranch,” said Marlee Lauffer, Newhall Land spokeswoman. “We had great confidence in the diligence the Department of Fish and Wildlife undertook to certify the EIR and the Court’s action today affirms that process.”

An official with Center for Biological Diversity did not immediately respond to a request for a statement.

The 2012 ruling by the Los Angeles Superior Court set aside the development project’s 5,828-page Environmental Impact Report, as approved by the California Department of Fish and Wildlife in 2010.

“The appellate court’s reversal of the trial court’s decision is validation of years of hard work on environmental documents and subsequent permits,” said Jordan Traverso, spokeswoman for the California Department of Fish and Wildlife. “We always work meticulously to ensure documents and permits such as these are sound. We especially do so on a project of this magnitude.”

A call to SCOPE officials was not answered Thursday.

The environmental groups that brought forth the suit sought to halt the 20,000-plus home project slated for the west side of the Santa Clarita Valley on the grounds the environmental impact reports were not conducted properly, Newhall Land officials said.

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